Put up your hand if you find networking intimidating. Yep, that’s more than half the room. Now, stand in front of the room and tell everyone about your brilliant, entrepreneurial idea. That thought could be enough for you to break into a cold sweat. For many students, networking is an intimidating prospect. It’s the elephant in the room wearing a sign the size of a billboard that says — go meet people within the industry, it’s the only way you’ll get a job, or get your idea heard.
With an idea borne out of Startup Weekend held at the end of 2016, and the Three-Day-Startup held in June, students Boboleia Kom and Ryan Smith, decided to create a project that helps to make networking a friendlier concept. They dedicated themselves to establishing a space where students can share innovative ideas and network with industry professionals in a friendly, relaxed environment.
The Startup Weekend and Three-Day-Startup, organised by JCU and Startup Townsville, and funded by Advance Queensland, were events that involved pitching ideas, building students’ entrepreneurial skills and creating a motivating and inspirational atmosphere for ideas to grow. Driven by the energy these events created, Boboleia and Ryan felt that they needed to continue the momentum.
The two students kick started the Network of Innovators, Creators and Entrepreneurs (NICE) project in August 2017. They wanted to create an environment where building relationships and expanding networks were paramount.
Collaboration and innovative ideas flourish in NICE’s informal setting where no one is in charge. Live music and refreshments help to encourage a sense of community making NICE a platform where people can feel comfortable pitching their ideas. Importantly, NICE is an environment where giving and receiving feedback is encouraged.
At NICE, students can learn, network and bounce ideas around with each other. We invite guest speakers from various industries who talk to us about specific topics, generally regional and local issues. - Boboleia Kom
Following the guest speakers, people mingle with each other before gathering for a brainstorming session, where pitching ideas to solve the issues raised by the guest speaker is encouraged. Because of the focus on networking, the magic of this set-up is that if you want to run with an idea and implement it, you’ve already made your connections. The people at the event will know people who can put you in touch with other people who can help you. This is the beauty of networking.
“Everyone is friendly and respectful. There’s diverse input as students from all disciplines are welcome. Some of the people I have met, I wouldn’t have come across if I didn’t get involved in this project. I would encourage students to get involved simply because of the people you get to meet and learn from,” says Boboleia.
The NICE group are not planning any events during exams and the holiday period, however the group want to continue holding events in Semester One 2018. They are looking for feedback from people who have attended NICE and suggestions on how they can improve. To contact them, visit their Facebook page.
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